In the Caribbean and Central America, there are really exciting opportunities to see Caribbean turtles nesting, including the critically endangered Leatherback turtle. Older children will find joining night-time turtle patrols quite an adventure. It’s not only adults that have a fascination for these gentle creatures – considered by some as being the last living dinosaur in the world. Young children might find the very late night plus lots of walking just too much.
There are seven varieties of turtles in the world. Mexico boasts six of the world’s seven species that nest along its coastline, and the Caribbean turtles number four varieties – the Hawksbill turtle, Leatherback turtle, Loggerhead turtle and Green turtle. It is thought that only one in 1,000 will survive to adulthood. Giant Leatherbacks can dive as deep as 4,000ft (1.2 meters) and stay under water for up to one hour.
Visitors to a number of islands can join Caribbean turtles patrols every night during the turtle nesting season, and some tour operators will collect you from and return you to your hotel while others have specific pick up points. Tours vary but generally take place from around 8pm to midnight. Expect a lot of walking on soft sand so wear sensible footwear and something warm – night-time breezes off the sea can be quite cool. Trousers are best to wear, and it is wise to take a fleece or sweater with you as well as waterproofs for those sudden Caribbean downpours.
Important Caribbean turtles watching advice
Check with your guide if there are any special requirements when you book and before you go on your Caribbean turtles watching adventure. It is important to note that sea turtles are very sensitive to any kind of disturbance so do not use your camera flash if you take photographs or any torch (including that on your smart phone) or flashlight. Caribbean turtles can be scared by movement or any lights on the beach so then might dump her eggs at sea where they will perish. Some guides do allow use of a flash light but only with the use of a red filter, and sometimes dark clothing is requested to be worn. Do keep on the lookout for any hatchlings struggling to get to the sea. As only one in a thousand survive to adulthood, it wouldn’t be good to stand on one!